December 30, 2009

Cleaning, and sewing...

So far, I've cleaned out the front hall and the front closet.  It is easy to get rid of stuff that is too small when the youngest can't even get the snow pants over the hips LOL. And, because the youngest is also wanting to make her new toy (a doll house), the basement got cleaned so she could build the house on the basement table.  It was a good thing--but it took a day to do.  Thant makes two car loads of stuff gone from the house.  It doesn't feel like that much, but now the cupboards are holding what they need to hold, and there aren't piles everywhere.   Thank the good lord for my hubbie, who is willing to drive stuff to the good will to get it out of the house.

I've also started sewing my SWAP, except, well, I started with something that may or may not work into the whole thing: a brown stretch velvet cowl neck turtle neck shirt.  Next up is a pair of lined, wool pants.  Between the 30 minutes of sewing a day, and the spring cleaning, I'm doing things slowly but surely. 

December 28, 2009

Shepherds and Angels

A thought came to me Christmas eve, about the angels and shepherds story.  Why did the angels appear to the shepherds? 

I'm not going to get into the literal and mythical issues about the birth stories of Jesus.  If angels appeared, I actually don't think that the angels appeared only to the shepherds of the day.  Given the importance of the event, I think angels probably appeared all over, but in all the clutter and noise of Jerusalem and Bethlehem they could not be heard.   Think of the time: the movement, the noise, the need to find a place to sleep and put all the stuff of travel since everyone was going back to where they were born for the census.  Is it any wonder that there was no quiet, no space, for the angels to be heard?  Not that they didn't sing in Bethlehem, but that their song could not be heard over the clutter and noise of the day.

Sometimes, I think that my life is like that.  Not that God isn't speaking, but that perhaps my life is so cluttered that I can't hear anything over the noise. Time to tidy, thin and make space. 

Starting the new year with a tidy house

Every year, we have a New Year's open house.  Normally, we do a stash and dash cleaning job to get ready for the open house.  This year, though, I want to start the year with a clean house for open house.  So, I am working through from the front door around to the left through the whole house doing a spring clean.

Until I found this site, I had no idea how to do a spring clean.  I mean, I know that people spring clean,but I had no idea how to do it.  I particularly like Simple Mom's approach to spring cleaning.  She has a great e-book, which can be printed out and put into a home journal,, but everything is also available on her blog.  essentially spring cleaning   boils down to declutter, clean, organize. 

Or, to be more specific: 

1--take everything out of the space.
2--wipe down the space, and clean it.
3--only put back what you need, and love.
4--actually send the rest away, as in don't just leave those black bags in the hallway, load them into the car and get them out of the house. 

The last step is my personal challenge.  I don't have a problem actually thinning out the space and filling the black bags.  Getting them out of the house, though, that is a challenge.

I may do the 14 week challenge from the first link, since I'm not sure how far I can get in four days, but we will have a jump start on the main floor of the house.   Space one is the front hall, and then I will work around to the left.  The goal is to do a 'car dump run' every single day.  Maybe even two a day.  Thin, black bag or box, and get it out of the house. Maybe even replace our decaying drapes in the front window.  Maybe. 

Here is to a tidy and less overstuffed New Year.

December 22, 2009

No orphans

The sewing contest on Pattern Review that changed my sewing the most was the Endless Combinations Sewing Contest that I moderated last year. I've done SWAP, and it is good, but when I sew now, I sew with the thought: no orphans. What I sew has to go with something else in the closet. I'm trying to sew styles that I know will work with what I have (as in, have a waist shaping, are open and flattering around the neck, are plainer on the bottom half). I'm also limiting my colours along the line of the very small closet concept. I use black as my base (black, deep gray, medium gray, white), supplemented with the deeper colours: cranberry in all its variations (from deep to lighter rose) blues (teal, medium blue, airforce blue), and brown (a lovely red brown, which is the only brown I can wear). Colour wise, everything works together.

This week's sewing is brought to you by the colour cranberry. So far, I've sewn:
1--a cowl sweater, in polar fleece; I had to piece the sleeves together to get a three quarter sleeve.
2--a panel princess sleeveless top, in cranberry velour
3--a matching ankle length mermaid style gored skirt, in cranberry velour
4--a cowl sweater in rose embossed crushed panne stretch velvet (this one might get passed to the daughter, since it isn't quite exactly the right colour; it is also her fabric that was put onto my shelf in a tidy up, oops).
5--rayon poly lycra crepe hollywood waisted pull on pants, in cranberry
6--rayon poly lycra crepe 6 gore flippy skirt, in cranberry.

Those are the keepers. They are all textured, but they are all the same colour. I didn't buy them together, it just happened that they are all the same colour. None of them are 'speaking' fabrics, in spite of the textures, and they work really well together. They also go with about 15 other things in my closet, including my favourite black and brown pants, as well as the black stretch velvet pants I made last week, and the white velour cowl top. The more laundry I do, the more I realize how these pieces work with most of what I already have. What a good feeling. Sewing should give you more options in your closet, not fewer options.

To make it work as a 6 pack sewing, I need to have a topper that coordinates, but I don't have any more cranberry fabric. Yeah--stash sewing gone right.

December 5, 2009

Following the crowd...

Or, why I learned that I like more tailored clothes LOL.

Today, I made one of those lovely 'wrap it a million ways' uneven sweaters. I was loosely following the tail end of the Pattern review challenge: to make a warp sweater.

It was, well, bad. I did not take any pictures. I have saved myself the humiliation of eating crow for years to come. The sweater was cut like a Vogue pattern, morphed onto my own TNT, with fronts that tastefully fell to my knees. I wanted it to look like the pictures, but it looked....lopsided and horrible. My oldest (in her teenageryly way) gently let me down: Mom, you just have to accept that sometimes you make things that are just not fit for wearing by any living human. My husband just frowned at it, and said: um, no. My youngest, well, she gave me that look (Mom, why are you embarassing yourself this way, and me too?) and shook her head. Too big, too droopy, and ugly.

I gave up, and recut it into a nice tasteful sweater, with an even hem and a button band. It still needs buttons, but it feels much better. It fits my style. I don't look like I'm a little kid wearing my mom's clothes.

Lesson learned: quit following the crowd, and listen to that still small voice that says: are you sure that you want that much fabric hanging around your middle to your knees? You didn't like the burda mag pattern with the triple wraps, because it wrapped around your waist...So, now I have my skirt, tank top and tasteful cardigan on and I am thankful that I am not going to keep following the crowd. But, it was a fun illusion while it lasted!

December 3, 2009

6 piece Winter Sew along

Endless combinations sewing really changed how I sew for a wardrobe. I still wear most of my endless combinations wardrobe. In fact, I am wearing some of it out. The wild print t-shirt with the sequins has really done its time, and I still love it. The sequin glue is giving up, however, and sequins appear regularly all over the place. But, what I realized from sewing and moderating the endless combinations challenge is that I sew in capsules. A capsule is a jacket/sweater, two bottoms (skirt and pants) and at least 3 coordinating tops. Sometimes I add a dress, sometimes I sew a top that matches the bottoms. Over at Aristan Square, Elizabeth has started to have 6 piece sew alongs for her coordinating wardrobe concept.

The sew along for capsule sewing works on this same principal, and is more suited to my climate that a strict SWAP plan because there are more layering pieces. Each season (3 months) you sew six pieces that co-ordinate. If you pick four colours (ideally 3 neutrals and an accent) in a year you *should* have a very easy wardrobe to pick from. But each season would still co-ordinate if you wanted to shift colours between seasons.

The winter sew along looks like this:
Trousers (dark neutral)
2 Tops (1 to match, 1 to complement)
2 layering tops/cardigans/jackets (1 to match, 1 to complement)
Coat (dark neutral)

Other than doubling the bottoms to two pants, or pants and a skirt, I can see this plan working for me in the long run. My base colours are black and deep gray, deep navy blue, and a rosy brown. My accents end up being plum, raspberry/rose, teal, white, deep green, and steel blue. I'm not sure I can go to just 4 colours, but I am happy with these colours because they are coordinating.

This season, I'm working on black and dusty plum.
So far:
Black embroidered stretch denim pants (done).
Plum stretch dress pants (done)
Two tops: plum/black print long sleeve knit top (done)
Black/white/pink print long sleeve knit top (done).
?Matching black top, that goes with the black sweater thing?

Layering pieces still to go:
Matching plum 'casual jacket' with pockets and buttons
Black 'sweater thing' that can be worn a thousand ways

Macphee swirl skirt in black knit, to match the black sweater thing
6 gore skirt with flares in deep gray something
Deep gray dress pants
2 piece plum stretch lace twin set (sleeveless top and v neck sweater) (done)

December 2, 2009

I'm trying to decide if I'm going to do the Artisan's Square SWAP (sewing with a plan)--making 11 garments that work together, in 4 months.

The sewing is not the issue--the planning is the issue. Here are the criteria:

Option #1:
6 tops - t-shirts, shirts, blouses, or camisoles
4 bottoms - jeans, pants, shorts, skirts or kilts.
1 your choice (not an accesory)

Option #2:
2 dresses -single pieces consisting of top and bottom that can be worn alone.
6 tops - t-shirts, shirts, blouses, or camisoles
2 bottoms - jeans, pants, shorts, skirts or kilts.
1 your choice (not an accesory)

Option #3:
5 dresses -single pieces consisting of top and bottom that can be worn alone.
4 tops - t-shirts, shirts, blouses, or camisoles
1 bottom - jeans, pants, shorts, skirt or kilt.
1 your choice (not an accesory)

2 garments may be purchased or previously sewn.
1 may be knitted or crocheted.

1 will be a matched print or stripe.
1 will feature embroidery, beads or sashiko
1 will have buttons as the star feature OR use unusual or alternative closure(s).

This year's emphasis is going to be on making a wardrobe that fits your needs, and showcasing your sewing and embellishing skills.

Sewing will begin December 26th, and all garments must be finished by April 30th, 2010. Because this is a shorter time frame, pattern fitting and cutting may be done whenever you're ready.

I'm pretty set for colours. Since doing the endless wardrobe sew along, I've been pretty set in my sewing ways. My colours are 'low contrast deep winter'. Which translates, seriously, to basics of black, dark gray, and white, and highlights of plum, raspberry and teal, deep red, brown and china blue. Not really dusty, but deep colours.

The question is more one of planning--a central theme, an interesting closure, some embroidery....